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Negotiation

By Patricia J. Moser-Stern

Do you remember when you entered into your first negotiation? Probably not, as your first negotiation would have taken place when you were a toddler. You wanted something, but your parents weren’t acquiescing. You probably stomped your foot, possibly yelled, resorted to crying, even hitting; and, depending on your parental units, you either got your way, ended up with the longest time-out known to history, or were sold to a roving band of gypsies.

Regardless, your first negotiation was probably not that successful. Over time, you have learned what works and what doesn’t work, at least on an elemental basis. As we grow older, however, negotiations become more of a chess game, where there are many master players who know moves that you may have never experienced.You are therefore somewhat vulnerable to be checkmated.

We need to realize that what works in one situation doesn’t necessarily work in another, because the stakes are different, as are the players. And as Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Negotiation can be described as bargaining, arbitration, compromise, consultation, debate, diplomacy, discussion, mediation, transaction and others. And all of these descriptors may come into play during a negotiation.

Put simply, a negotiation involves two or more parties, where each wants to obtain a positive benefit from a transaction. This necessarily creates an adversarial scenario, because, of course, each party wants to maximize its benefits. There is the yin/yang of the scenario – one wants to buy, the other sell – but once you are beyond that, you begin the ritualistic negotiation mating dance that will hopefully end positively for you.

Also be aware that you are, in effect, marketing yourself during a negotiation – showing your professionalism, ability to listen, and understanding of the key business elements. Your reputation can be made or lost during a negotiation.

So how do you become a master in the world of negotiation? Learning to negotiate effectively is like learning to drive a car: observing others; training from experts; hands-on practice – learning from experience how to manoeuvre, given the situation. Finally, after years of practice, all the tasks associated with driving, like negotiation, become natural, automatic and inevitably successful.

What elements are required to ensure a positive outcome in a negotiation?

Before you even begin a negotiation, there is a significant amount of planning and preparation required. Visualize your best outcome. What do you need to make the deal viable? What are you willing to concede? How much do you know about the other players in the negotiation? What is their motivation? At what point are you willing to walk away from the deal (this is usually referred to as BATNA – Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement).

During the negotiation, observe, listen and participate. How is the room set up? Can you change any elements to your advantage? What is the body language of the other party indicating? Are they open to your point – or have they moved in a manner that indicates a problem with the item? Are you ensuring that your body language is in sync with theirs – which enables the lines of communication to stay open?

Your planning and preparation come into play, but remember, negotiation is fluid and dynamic. Be ready to be flexible. Scenarios may come up in a negotiation that you didn’t anticipate. If you are unsure of your response, take a break and think. There is no need to respond immediately. And never give anything away without getting something in return.

When a “deal” is struck, make sure that you summarize, to guarantee that all parties have the same understanding. And remember, if you’ve only negotiated the terms of the deal, there is still the very important legal contract to be negotiated, the requirements of which again require knowledge of the law and expert negotiation skills.

Finally, remember, you don’t get what you deserve – you only get what you negotiate!


 

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Copyright 2006 SOHO Business Report
a Dream Launchers Partner






SOHO Business report magazine, a Dream Launchers project publication, helps Small Office / Home Office Entrepreneurs succeed. We help home-based business and small business with free articles, multimedia (audio, video & interactive), tools and tips. Topics for home business and small business include business planning (e.g. business plan and marketing templates), strategy, guerrilla marketing, Internet marketing, publicity, project management, importing, exporting, taxes, finance, trade shows, technology, negotiation, consulting, sales techniques and tactics, work life balance, growth management, profit optimization, team work, leadership, human resources (recruiting, hiring, training & firing) and network marketing (referrals and contact building). SBR can help you start your home business or small business and give you the management tools and resources to succeed by making a business plan or marketing plan with expert input. All of that without getting an MBA, going through training or school. Start increasing your profits, improving your cash flow and building the business your entrepreneurial aspirations demand.